A well-run rebook can bring in 75% of your organization’s exhibit sales budget in just a few days, giving you the rest of the year to creatively pursue sponsorships. So why don’t more nonprofits grasp the power of a great rebook? Misconceptions abound. If you buy into any of the myths below, you may be leaving money on the table.
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Myth 1: It’s not worth it. Overall revenue will be the same regardless of whether we do an exhibitor rebook for the following show or not; it’s a wash.
Knowing where you stand with advance sales is extremely helpful for numerous reasons. From a sales perspective, it allows you additional time to focus on selling your other products and services–convention sponsorships, digital or print advertising, year-round partnerships, and so forth. Advance expo sales also open up many bundling and upsell possibilities with exhibitors who do pre-book. And it helps increase your overall expo sales by allowing time to focus on competitive leveraging and encouraging exhibitors to increase their booth size.
Myth 2: We aren’t ready. Our floor plan software can only accommodate one show at a time, and we don’t even know who our decorator is going to be for the next show, so can’t develop a new floor plan.
While some floor plan software allows for multiple shows to be administered within their services, others can only accommodate one floor plan at a given time. For those that can only accommodate one plan at a time, there are numerous work-arounds to get a CAD file for the hall you plan on selling. Likewise, it’s not necessary to have a contract with a decorator finalized for your next show to create a floor plan; your current decorator will likely get you the next year’s floor plan–whether under contract or not.
Myth 3: It doesn’t fit our sales cycle. Rebook does not work with how we traditionally sell exhibit space. Our suppliers and sponsors (especially the VIPs) are used to the way we currently sell space, and it doesn’t fit with our bundling strategy.
When a rebook is handled properly, relationships are one of the most important considerations. So long as you honor expectations, then no matter how your organization has sold or reserved space in the past, there is no downside to implementing an exhibitor rebook system. An effective rebook compliments your existing sales cycles and models and allows for growth.
Myth 4: It’s too risky. Low attendance or mediocre onsite traffic could affect the success of the onsite rebook.
Once in a while, there’s just no spinning low attendance numbers in a favorable manner, but you usually can turn complaints to your advantage. Often, complaints about lack of traffic come from those who are in areas of the exhibit hall they perceive to be less than desirable. And the exhibitors in these areas often did not reserve their space until later in the sales cycle. Most of this criticism can be addressed by tactfully pointing out that they were offered an opportunity to choose their space a year earlier–but choose to wait until the 11th hour to commit. Likewise, one can encourage new exhibitors to take advantage of rebook so they are in a more favorable location for the next show.
Myth 5. Onsite booth staff is the wrong target. Often, exhibit personnel working the show are not the decision makers authorized to reserve space. There’s no way exhibitors will reserve space for the following year without having budget approval, or knowing their ROI on the current show.
If the rebook is handled properly, all relevant information will be shared well in advance of the show, so the key decision makers at each organization will have ample time to digest the exhibit rebook details. Onsite, rebook is done by appointment, and exhibitors who miss their appointment will still be encouraged to take advantage of the onsite rates by selecting a preferred space with no penalty should they decide to back away by a timely deadline. This tacit commitment often results in the given exhibitor’s ultimate reservation–once they discuss it with their team.
Myth 6. We’re too busy. There are way too many issues to deal with onsite, or prior to the show. We can’t deal with a rebook process on top of it all.
Both show managing and selling the following show can be managed simultaneously and seamlessly. If your organization does not have the staff to handle both, bringing in consultants to handle the rebook is a cost effective way to add temporary horsepower without committing overhead for an entire year. Your full-time staff is then free to manage the event and pursue other nondues revenue like sponsorships, program ads, and so forth.
Myth 7. It’s too complicated. Introducing an exhibitor priority point system is too complicated; plus, it will be a political nightmare with our VIP sponsors and longtime exhibitors.
If you don’t currently have a priority point system (or something similar) that ranks your exhibitors in the order in which they will select their exhibit space, it can indeed seem daunting to begin. However, once launched, a priority point system is a win–win for both your organization and your long-time exhibitors.
Need to get your ducks in a row for a rebook? Association Revenue Solutions can show you how. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-609-3974.